Chapter 31:

Haunted House

Would You Paint My Dunk

With her seniors tutoring her, her skill gets better as time goes. In my three weeks carrying the props that the event would use, her painting turned from junk into decent. Especially her painting of a vampire lord, it was good enough to receive her seniors’ praises.

Meanwhile, I didn’t forget to hone my basketball skills. Even when all I could do in matches is just to sit on the bench and watch the others play, I’m not dispirited, because I believed in one thing: One day, my chance would come.

Time passed. Today is Tuesday, October 31th, 2023. The Halloween event turned the whole university wild. The tube-shaped lamps that usually lightens the corridor have been turned off, replaced with multiple orange carved pumpkins that glow from inside. The Halloween vibe was complete with paper bats hung all over the ceilings.

As if it wasn’t enough, people are cosplaying to be zombies, witches, or even ghouls. They were so much into it that some of them even mimicked zombie walks or something like that. While dressing up is optional for normal people, it was mandatory for the committee members, which made me confused.

Isn’t it enough to put a nametag on? Why did we have to put a costume on as well? Well, whatever. I'm just going to follow my seniors’ orders. I don’t want to stir another trouble after all.

In the end, I decided to dress up… As a vampire.

Why? Because it’s easy. All I had to do was to wax my black hair upward, wearing a red and black coat and a black trouser to match, and sharp teeth props on my mouth. That’s it, you are the dreaded vampire people fear of.

I remember that her work would be used in the haunted house, and I decided to walk toward it. As I arrived, I saw her posing as a mage in a reception desk. Wearing a blue robe, a blue magician hat, she looked charming as she held her wooden staff in her right hand. Her left hand flipped the attendance book like a spellcaster flipping her spell book.

With her in my sight, I approached her to say hello.

“Hi, Jess. You looked great in your outfit. Being a magician totally suits you.”

She turned around to look at me.

“Oh, it’s you Keith.”

She snorted before continuing.

“Look at you, badass guy. You look cool posing as a vampire.”

Receiving her flattery, I turned my head away in embarrassment.

“Come on. I thought vampires were cool enough. I just don't want to trouble myself by putting a more complicated costume on.”

“Ha-ha, right? I’m even worse. You still wax your hair and put those fake teeth on your mouth. As for me? I just wore this robe, a hat, and held a wooden staff. I didn’t even want to spend more effort than this.”

Shortly, we started laughing at our similarities. However, after we earned the gazes of our seniors, we quickly hit the brakes and stopped. How could we not? One of our seniors looked displeased and approached us.

“Ssh! I know that you two are close, but please don’t be too loud here. You two will only drive people away.”

With her senior complaining, Jessica turned around and looked at him.

“Oops, I’m sorry. I can’t help but get excited talking with my boyfriend.”

“Still, you shouldn’t make a ruckus in front of the entrance. Hmm, how about you two head inside for a date? As part of the crew, you should have the privilege to taste your own work, right?”

Wait… We are…

“Sounds good!” Jessica nodded. “Keith, let’s go in.” She grabbed my hand and started pulling me.

I was shocked as I got dragged inside the place we had worked on. I couldn’t help but think that things are starting to develop like manga and movies.

What’s next? Accidental hug after a jump scare?

Well, I guess I could spend some memorable time with her today.

Contrary to my expectations, nothing happened like the movies’ plotlines. No jump scares, no panics, no hugs, nothing. Maybe it’s because we are a part of the crew and knew everything in advance, but we quickly navigated ourselves between the props.

After we walked for a while, we stopped. In front of me, the vampire lord painting that she made was pinned into the wall. While it wasn’t my first time seeing it, it was much better when it got showered by a spotlight.

She turned around, looking at me as I was admiring her work.

“Keith, is my work good that you had to stare at it that long?”

Thinking that it would be funnier if I joked around instead of praising her, I decided to crack her up.

“No? I am just trying to compare myself to that painting. As we are both vampires, I wonder if I’m more handsome than him.”

As I would expect, she laughed out loud.

“Ha-ha. Keith, what are you saying? Oh, my stomach.”

Still laughing, she bowed while holding her stomach. After a while, she took a deep breath before she went on.

“Thank you, Keith. I could reach this far because of you. If you didn't encourage me to keep going, I would have given up on my dream to be a painter. I couldn’t express my gratitude enough…”

“Nah!” I shook my head. “It’s you who pave your own way. I just gave you a push, and that’s it. Besides, it’s not just you who is grateful, I’m also grateful when you helped me with my essay. If you didn’t help, then you would have skipped it. We are friends, are we? We have to help each other out.”

I smiled at her, and she responded with a nod.

“I guess… Anyway Keith, I remember that you said I’m trying to avoid you, right?”

Wait, she isn’t a person that holds grudges, is she? Crap… I hope she won't…

“So, it made me think. You accompanied me for almost a month for my sake, spending your free time that you could use in the cafeteria to be an errand boy here. It would be only right if I accompany your schedule too. I also felt bad that we didn’t interact much these days, so please…”

“Wait…” I put a stop sign to her. “Jess, you don’t have to. I know you are busy in the evening, and I’m already happy to spend lunch break with you.”

“No.” She shook her head. “Tell me your schedule. Who knows? Maybe we can meet more often if our schedule matches.”

“Well, on the weekdays, I usually jog in the morning…”

Before I could finish, she jolted, interrupting me.

“That’s it! Keith, can I join your morning jog? Please?”

She looked at me with her puppy eyes. Mutually interested in spending more time with her, I decided to comply. Their parents wouldn’t mind if I took her exercise with me in the morning, would they?

“Very well.” I nodded softly. “I’ll get you at six thirty, make sure you are up by then.”


Suddenly, she jolted. She had a surprised look on her face.

“Keith, we spent too much time here! We should get outside to do our job.”

“Oh, right! Let’s go out before our seniors get angry with us.”

And so, we left the haunted house and returned to our post. Our seniors teased us lightly, and asked us how our ‘date’ went. We just shrugged it off, saying that her painting was good and I praised her for it.

Next morning, I woke up following my alarm. Well, I set alarms beforehand, I didn’t want to be late when I am the one who set the time.

I quickly wore my white tank top and blue sports shorts as I walked toward her residence. As I arrived, I looked at my phone which indicated 6:26 AM.

Whew, I’m not late. Now I just have to wait for her…

But as I pocketed my phone and turned my gaze forward, the sight in front of me rendered me speechless. She was standing in front of me, wearing a faint pink sport bra and black long sport trousers that wrapped her slender figure tight. Before long, I was charmed by her.

I shook my head, trying to get a grip for myself. Her appearance took me by surprise. I know that she probably uses that outfit because we are running in the morning, but I never expected her to go out without a shirt or a tank top to cover her top.

While I was looking at her, she smiled and waved at me.

“Keith, you are here.”

“Yeah! Let’s go.”

I turned my body around and gave her the signal to follow. As I started to jog, she swiftly took my side and looked at me with a smile. It was enough to make my heart thumping like crazy. I finally realized all the feelings I had for her all this time.

I’m in love with her.

I should have known. I was too dense to notice, and I kept myself in denial.

I wanted her to be happy, I wanted to talk to her longer.

However, as we took our steps forward across the neighborhood, I didn’t have the courage to take the first step to her heart. My mind was clouded with fear of losing her. After all, I didn’t want to break our relationship.

I have to bury this silly thought of mine…

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